If bodybuilders were asked to choose their all-time favourite exercise in terms of effectiveness, most true bodybuilders such as Brad Castleberry would choose some variant of the squat. Squats are fantastic for building muscle in the lower body, while helping to strengthen the core and promote functional strength in the process. But did you know that there are many different versions of the squat, with each one providing a slightly different benefit to the last? The variant we’re going to be looking at today is the Jefferson squat, which is why we’ve compiled this Jefferson squat guideline. Contained in this guide we’ll take you back in time to when the Jefferson squat was first created, before looking at how the exercise is performed, and why it is so beneficial when compared with other lower body exercises. So, if your legs are refusing to grow, or if you’re simply looking for a new lower-body exercise, here is your ultimate Jefferson squat guideline.
What are Jefferson squats?
– The Jefferson squat may only now be once again proving popular on the bodybuilding and CrossFit scene, but in reality, it is one of the oldest exercises in the world. The exercise actually can be traced back to the 1800s. It was created by a strongman with a travelling circus who went by the name Charles Jefferson. For years, strongmen and overly muscular men were not viewed in the same light as they are now. Back then they were seen as freaks – literally. Many strongman acts were a part of the Freakshows at travelling circus’. Jefferson was an incredibly strong man, and would regularly break metal chains with his bare hands, and lift enormous barbells and dumbbells. Jefferson created this squat variant, as well as a deadlift variant, which is almost identical to the squat.
How is the exercise performed?
– If you wish to perform Jefferson squats in the gym, performing the exercise is actually a fairly simple procedure. Simply take a 7ft barbell and load each side with comfortable weights to begin with. Next, straddle the bar so that your left foot is directly parallel to the bar, and your right foot is placed at a 90 degree angle. Keep your back straight and your chest proud and slowly squat down, making sure to keep your head up. Take an overhand/underhand grip on the bar, roughly 2 inches wider than shoulder width, and slowly stand up until your arms are straight and your shoulders level. Next, hold for a second or two and slowly return the bar back down to the starting position, and repeat for as many reps as required. You should start to feel a deep stretch in your hamstrings and quads fairly early on.
So, what’s the biggest difference between a Jefferson squat and a Jefferson deadlift?
– As you may recall, earlier we spoke about how these two exercises were almost identical to one another, but there are a few key differences. You see, when you do the squat version of this exercise, you must ensure that your spine is a lot more vertical, while your knees need to be bent slightly more. This is to ensure that your hips don’t drop downwards, and it ensures your quads are fully engaged, which means greater levels of muscular hypertrophy for the legs. When you perform the deadlift variant, your knees are stiffer as this helps you to engage your lower back. It’s all in the knees, as they say, and this is especially true when it comes to Jefferson squats and deadlifts.
What are the main benefits of Jefferson squats?
– Now that you know where and how this exercise originated, and how it’s performed, let’s now take a look at some of the main advantages associated with including Jefferson squats as part of your routine.
Stabilize your core – One of the greatest things about Jefferson squats, is the fact that they have been proven to help stabilize your core. This is one of the main reasons why so many Crossfitters have now started to implement Jefferson squats as part of their WODs (Workouts of the day). By performing Jefferson squats, you are helping to significantly increase your core muscle strength, which means that your stabilizer muscles become stronger, as will you by default.
Great for the legs – If you’re looking for a new and exciting exercise to try on leg day, make sure you try Jefferson squats during your next workout. Not only do they help build upon asymmetrical strength, they also help you to pack on a great deal of muscle mass on your lower body, particularly on the quads and hamstrings. They’re also far less taxing on your CNS than barbell squats, with the added bonus of being fairly easy to master.
Great for the spine – One of the main risks associated with barbell squats is the fact that they put a great deal of strain and pressure on the spine. Because of the basic mechanics associated with performing Jefferson squats however, far less stress and pressure is placed upon the spine, and not only that, it can actually help to develop muscle around it, so that it proves beneficial for the spine and helps protect it instead. For people with back injuries, or who are at risk of a back injury, Jefferson squats make a great alternative to heavy barbell squats.
Offers ideal multiplanar development – While many compound exercises offer one individual plane of motion, the Jefferson squat actually provides several, as it challenges several planes of motion simultaneously, as the exercise is being performed. You see, the human body is capable of moving through three simultaneous planes of motion, which is why you should ideally be performing Jefferson’s, in order to ensure you put your body through these planes as you train.
So, there you have it. That brings our Jefferson squat guideline to a close. Now that you know what the exercise is and how it’s performed, as well as what makes it so beneficial, hopefully you’ll now consider implementing it as part of your lower body training when you feel like mixing things up.
Author: Reda Elmardi